“How many people’s lives were ruined by the actions of these sick ***** and their families?

Today I found an email dated December 21, 2008, from one of my brothers.  I had asked him to contact an old friend who had a brother who graduated from Brother Rice in Birmingham, MI, to see if we could get a yearbook photo of a guy who had been a suspect in this case.  My brother gave his friend limited information about why we wanted the year book.  She then told him about an amazing exchange she had with an ex-Oakland County sheriff in a bar 15 or more years ago about this case.  Because I can’t find my notes on that exchange tonight, I will have to post later about that.  I also need to run it by my brother to make sure I have it right.  She told him she had never mentioned it to him before because this LE officer–who had moved on to another agency, told her the families all knew what he was telling her and didn’t want to make a big deal of any of it; that it was water under the bridge, and too upsetting.  She figured we knew the information and did not want to reopen old wounds.

When we were looking for this yearbook, my brother decided to reach out to a woman he knew in high school who had told him many years later about an incident she still felt terrible about and which she had always felt in her heart was connected to the OCCK abductions.  She had told my brother that she was flashed by a younger man on a nearby street–Mohegan.  She got a license plate number and ran home and told her parents.  Her dad immediately went to the Birmingham Police Department to file a police report.  Her father worked for GM corporate.  He returned home very upset.  The perp’s father worked for GM and her dad said he would lose his job if he pressed charges.  The family never spoke of it again, although my brother and she discussed it a few times over the years.

Her story had taken on much bigger significance after 2007, since we had discovered Chris Busch’s oldest brother Charles and his wife and son lived on Mohegan in 1977.  Very nice neighborhood.  Google Map Mohegan St. & Oxford St., Birmingham, MI and check out the proximity to Poppleton Park, Adams School (now Roeper School), and the Kroeger Retail Center (where Hunter-Maple Pharmacy was located in 1977).

On December 31, 2008, I asked my brother to again give me the details of the incident she described.  Here’s what his response said:

It’s a weird one.  *** (the victim) has no memory of what the guy looked like and has blocked most of it out.  *** was quite young (10,11, or 12?) and doesn’t remember much, except that she noted the license plate number on the car, remembered it and wrote it down when she got home (pretty sharp kid, especially in that time period).  Her sister, who was [] older, is tortured by the whole thing, but witnessed nothing.

*** says the license plate number was given to the police and she recently filed a FOIA request for the original report. [Long gone, of course.]

In our discussions about the ability of a GM exec to cover **** up, the sister told me that she knows a woman who was abducted as an eight-year-old from her house in Bloomfield and taken up north.  I’m not sure of the exact time period.  She was molested in the car.  On the drive up north the guy passed two police cars, freaked, and let her off in an open field in the middle of nowhere.  The victim’s father was a GM employee, and so was the perp’s father.  The whole thing was swept under the rug.  The event was never spoken of, no charges were even filed, it never made the papers.  The poor kid never even got therapy, and her parents never mentioned the incident again.  Eight years old.  We weren’t the only ones who had it rough.

How many people’s lives were ruined by the actions of these sick ***** and their families?  Could this all be the handiwork of one or two sickos?

I have since been contacted by three other people with similar stories from that era–one woman and two men.  Oakland County had a very sick underbelly during that era. I think there were far more than one or two sickos operating relatively freely in Oakland County.

“They still couldn’t grasp that this was not any normal case.”

Columbine is phenomenally researched and written about many angles of the massacre by two students at Columbine High School in April 1999.  The book is correctly described as riveting journalism and “the story none of us knew.”   It took Dave Cullen nearly ten years to write it.

Compare how a district judge in Colorado dealt with the delay by officials and an open records request by two families who had been waiting almost a year for a report on the sheriff’s findings.  A YEAR.  It seems plain that officials were delaying the release of the report for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the one-year statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits.

The summer after the April massacre at Columbine High School, Jefferson County investigators said their report on the crime was six to eight weeks away.  (Columbine at p. 297.) As the one-year anniversary to the killings approached, Jefferson County again said the report was six to eight weeks out.   My family has heard the “six to eight week” mantra many, many times since 2006 in the OCCK investigation.  “Don’t go to the media just yet; give us six to eight weeks.”  We did it many times until we couldn’t look ourselves in the mirror any more for having been strung along so many times.

The Jefferson County, CO, investigators wrapped up most of their work in the first four months, but were “skittish about presenting the information.  Yet the longer they waited, the more leaks they risked, the more rebukes, and the higher the stakes to get every sentence right.”  (Id.)  Delay compounded delay.

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit in Colorado is one year.  Ten days before the anniversary, two families (the Rohrboughs and the Flemmings) filed an open records request demanding to see the report immediately—one last option to avoid lawsuits for wrongful death or negligence. Most of the families just wanted to see the promised report.  Six to eight weeks had turned into 51 weeks.

Fifteen other families filed suits against the sheriff’s department in the following days.  “The cops had been stonewalling, and litigation looked like the only answer.  Families could sue for negligence or wrongful death, and use the process to force out information.  The verdict would be less important than discovery.”  (Id.)  As Dave Cullen explains, the lawsuits were expected to fail because the legal thresholds in federal court were too high—negligence was insufficient.  (Id. at 298.)  “The main strategy was to flush out information.”  (Id.)  How sad that it had come to that.

The open records case was heard before Colorado District Judge R. Brooke Jackson.   The Rohrboughs and the Flemmings wanted to see the report and since they were filing, they also asked for everything, “including the Basement Tapes, the killers’ journals, the 911 calls, and the surveillance videos.  Rohrbough wanted to compare the raw data to the narrative under construction by Jeffco.  He predicted a chasm.  ‘They lie as a practice,’ he said.”  (Id.)

Judge Jackson read the request and said yes.  “Over furious objections from Jeffco, three days before the anniversary, he allowed the plaintiffs to read the draft report.  He also granted them access to hundreds of hours of 911 tapes and some video footage.  He agreed to begin reading the two hundred binders of evidence himself, but noted that would take months.”  (Id.)  A few days later, Judge Jackson ordered the sheriff’s department to release its report to the public by May 15.

He also released more evidence, including a video that drew a lot of heat.  For months, Jeffco had referred to it as a ‘training video’ created by the Littleton Fire Department.  It was based on footage shot in the library shortly after the bodies were removed.  It would be the families’ first look at the gruesome scene.  It would be ‘difficult’ to watch, Jackson’s ruling stated, but that was no reason to suppress it.

‘There is no compelling public interest consideration that requires that the video or any part of it not be disclosed under the Open Records Act,’ Jackson wrote.

The next day, Jeffco began duplicating the tape and selling copies for $25.  Spokesman said the fee was to defray copying costs.  The families were aghast.

. . .

Brian Rohrbough had broken through Jeffco’s armor.  Judge Jackson kept ordering releases.  In May, he unleashed all the 911 tapes and a ballistics report.  For a while, every thing he read, he released.  The killers’ families tried to stop him [unsuccessfully].

(Id. at 299.)

The county released its report on May 15, as ordered.  The report was ridiculed, even without the public knowing at the time that Jefferson County was still suppressing the file on Harris and the search warrants. “Officials seemed truly bewildered by the [public’s] response.  Privately, they insisted they were just acting the way they always did:  building a case internally, keeping their conclusions to themselves.  Communicating the results was the prosecutors’ role.  It wasn’t their job.  They still couldn’t grasp that this was not any normal case.”  (Id. at 300.)

It would be four more years before Sheriff’s Detective Mike Guerra would confess to participating in the Open Space Meeting, where destruction of the pre-massacre file on Harris was discussed and subsequently implemented.  Officials had boldly lied at the press conference ten days after the killings and repeated these lies for years.  In August 2004, “the Colorado attorney general called  a grand jury to flush the file out and consider indictments.  (Id. at 343.)  “The file was never recovered, though investigators were able to reconstruct most of it.”  (Id. at 344.)

The grand jury’s September 2004 report contained many whopping understatements.  It found the fact that Guerra’s file was stored in three separate places and that all three were destroyed during the summer of 1999, was “troubling.”

It was also “troubled” by the Open Space meeting, attended by the county attorney, among others, press conference omissions and the apparent shredding of documents by a secretary at the request of a sheriff division chief.  “But every witness denied involvement in the destruction, the report said.  Given that, the grand jury could not determine whether the suspicious activity ‘is tied to a particular person or the result of a particular crime.’  Accordingly, it concluded there was insufficient evidence to indict.”  (Id. at 344.)

So, I ask again—were the families who filed the open records lawsuit or the families who felt they had to file wrongful death and negligence suits because law enforcement was not responding, disrespecting the people working the case or the legal system?  Just who was being disrespected?!  Multiply that one year delay in Columbine by 36 and ask who is doing the disrespecting in the OCCK case.

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